Population dynamics of wheat stem sawfly, Cephus cinctus Norton, in barley in Montana

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Agriculture


Wheat stem sawfly (WSS) is an economically devastating pest of cereals grown in North America. The larva is the only feeding stage and remains confined within a host stem until it emerges as an adult the following year. This limited mobility increases larval vulnerability to mortality factors when host plant traits are hostile to survival. For instance, larval mortality is greater in barley than in solid stemmed wheat cultivars known to be resistant. Both solid stemmed wheat and barley kill neonates via host plant resistance traits. Traditionally, barley was recommended as an alternative rotational crop to prevent WSS outbreaks in wheat crops. There is limited data available regarding barley host plant resistance and questions persist. Has barley resistance changed over time? What is the impact of larval feeding injury on grain yield of barley? Do females display similar oviposition behaviors across barley cultivars that vary in susceptibility? To answer these questions. I conducted field experiments to assess resistance and possible tolerance to WSS in eight barley cultivars. Based on the number of eggs, 'Hockett' was the most attractive cultivar to WSS female (less antixenosis), while 'Craft' and 'Celebration' killed the greatest number of neonates due to antibiosis. Multiple decrement life table studies revealed that plant defense and cannibalism were two major causes of larval mortality. We measured greater yield in infested stems with dead larvae (potential tolerance) than for cut stems and both were greater than uninfested stems in all cultivars except 'Celebration'. A greenhouse study revealed that females preferred 'Hockett' over 'Craft' in frequencies of oviposition behaviors and numbers of eggs deposited. Additionally, a greater amount of the WSS attractant (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate was found in aerations from 'Hockett' plants than from 'Craft.' The amount of defensive compound linalool was greater in aerations from 'Craft' than from 'Hockett.' These results suggest that barley cultivars are equipped with varying levels of antibiosis, antixenosis, and tolerance traits against WSS. Thus, we can exploit these traits in the development of cultivars which can reduce WSS populations and decrease economic loss caused by this species.




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